Duke in Hiding (Crabbypatty’s review)

Duke in Hiding Audiobook
Title: Duke in Hiding : Dreamspun Desires, Book 9
Author: M.J. O’Shea and Rusty Topsfield (Narrator)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 16, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Length: 5 hrs and 8 mins
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Every gentleman has something to hide.

Meeting Heath Blackwood, a gorgeous English farmer, is probably the most exciting thing to ever happen to small-town landscaper Theo Brody, who has lived in quiet Maplehurst, New Hampshire, all his life. The sexy and secretive Brit shakes the foundations of his orderly world as they are swept up in a springtime romance neither can resist.

But Heath’s secrets run deeper than Theo ever imagined. He’s actually Heathcliff Pierrepont Blackwood, Duke of Kingston, in hiding from recent death threats. Suddenly there’s more separating them than the Atlantic Ocean, and Theo doubts he’ll ever fit in with English nobility. Though Heath and Theo are opposites in almost every way, their love might bridge the gap – if they’re willing to take the risk.

“Duke in Hiding” is a sweet tale of romance between Heath, the British Duke of Kingston hiding in a small New Hampshire town due to a death threat and Theo, orphaned hometown boy who is a part-time bartender and full-time landscaper. The story is low on drama and angst, with lots of hometown flavor – friends around town, secondary characters Gilly and George, dinner dates, movies, more meals together, etc. There isn’t a lot of sex in the book, but there’s plenty of romance and you can really feel the sizzle and chemistry between Theo and Heath.

After a pastoral slow-paced romance, however, the ending felt rushed and somewhat haphazard.

Heath initially came to New Hampshire because of death threats, and we get the resolution to this situation in a handful of sentences and are told that Heath is “still sad about it.” As Heath and Theo jet off to England, Theo NEVER ASKS Heath what is going on nor does Heath stop to explain. And Theo walking away from Heath and leaving England because of the paparazzi seemed very much out of character. There is a brief epilogue which still leaves the HEA/HFN up in the air other than to say “everything will work out, no matter what.”

My rating for the book itself is 3.5 stars, but I gave the narrator 2 stars. Usually there comes a point in any audio book where you forget about the narrator and the story unfolds. Unfortunately, I never reached that moment with Rusty Topsfield’s narration. Topsfield places an odd emPHAsis on some words … and there are … pauses that … disrupt the flow … of the … story as well as a “lilt” at the end of the sentence. Gilly’s character has a very irritating “vocal fry” and I found the British accents very inconsistent. For me personally, the narrator did not enhance the story but rather distracted from it. Therefore I would recommend the audio book, but some caution.

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Review Copy

Audiobook of Duke in Hiding provided by Dreamspinner Press in exchange of an honest review.


Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend. My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh ... not in my wheelhouse, but I'm a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre. Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more. A few "badges" from NetGalley: 100 Book Reviews Reviews Published Professional Reader